It’s all about going up, not down (easy, eh?)

October 22, 2009

If I had to summarise the Alexander Technique in a sentence, I might say that it’s about finding a way to stop pulling yourself down, and to activate the postural mechanisms that take you “up”.

That these postural mechanisms exist is widely accepted, and they have been studied and written about by physiologists (often cited as the first important text in this area is Neurophysiology of Postural Mechanisms by T.D.M. Roberts. London: Butterworths, 1967).

It’s the practical implications of these postural mechanisms – this innate tendency to go “up” – that we’re concerned with in the Alexander Technique. Most of us do a lot of stuff that gets in the way of the working of this mechanism. Perhaps we grip our shoulders or biceps unnecessarily while writing or using the computer, for example.

So the technique is about clearing away all this unnecessary stuff so the postural mechanisms can work unhindered – as they do in young children and some well co-ordinated adults. And when they do, the result is a noticeable “lengthening up” of the spine and a poised and balanced use of the self. Maybe you can observe it in the picture below of a child walking a dog.

A child waking a dog
The postural mechanisms of young children work well, and it is easy to notice a tendency to lengthen upwards

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